How Corporate America Waded Into the Gun Control Debate
(Bloomberg) -- With little movement in Congress, gun control advocates are turning to the private sector to drum up support for their cause. A new report from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has found that corporate America is increasingly taking a stance on firearms policy.
In the wake of a mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school in February, a social media movement sought boycotts of companies that offered discounts to members of the National Rifle Association. A slew of companies cut ties with the group. Institutional investors were also pressured to engage with the publicly traded firearms manufacturers they invest in, and retailers were encouraged to change their firearms sales policies.
“In addition to the concrete actions corporations are taking to reform their own policies or require more accountability from the gun industry, some businesses are taking extra steps and putting pressure on Congress to pass meaningful gun reforms,” the report found, citing action by Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., Kroger Co. and L.L. Bean Inc. “Companies that provide services to gun makers and sellers—like bankers, accountants, and lawyers—as well as institutional shareholders, can help save lives in America by requiring that their gun clients adhere to commonsense policies.”
The trend reminds some of how corporations showed support for marriage equality and condemned the tobacco industry, said Avery Gardiner, co-president of Brady. While she’s “heartened” by corporate America’s stance, Gardiner said congressional action is “absolutely the lynch pin.”
But in Washington, the firearms industry and its political allies are fighting back. After Dick’s Sporting Goods hired gun control lobbyists, the National Shooting Sports Foundation expelled the retailer from the industry group and hired lobbyist Will Hollier, whose work will focus on “discriminatory banking actions against [the] firearms industry,” according to a disclosure document.
Citigroup and Bank of America, which both made changes to their firearms-industry lending policies, faced blowback from conservatives in Washington. “It looks like we’re heading towards red banks and blue banks,” Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said during a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in early April.
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